Keeping Up

Well, let's face it... I haven't been. I knew I would not be updating much this term, but I didn't think I would stop altogether. I have been having a sort of rough term with all the reading and projects I have to do this term. But I have been in East Asian Ceramics, so I should have some artwork to show soon. I just began throwing on the wheel and that is both frustrating and fun. I have also been watching some cult movies lately, like the Room. I am also talking about a video project with some friends to enter in a contest that would relate to Tommy Wiseau's The Room. More on that later...



Raw Shock: A Study of Cultural Conformity

My video is finally finished. I feel that it has reached a state that I am comfortable with calling done, so that it can be digested by my viewers. I still have a lot of unused footage that I may expand into a larger project in the future. I plan to keep working on it, but I do feel satisfied in having something that feels complete to communicate my message. My message is something that has changed over time, but it is something that I think still meets my goals in a satisfactory manner. At first, I imagined that my video would end up being a sort of true-to-life story from a personal perspective in my ambition to pass on some of the experiences I have had for the benefit of others in a humorous, American Movie sort of way. Instead, my finished project turned out to be a tighter, more honed and brief video with less direct narrative value than originally planned. It relies more on suggestion, dialogue, use of symbols, and personal relationship. There is also significantly less humor that made it into the final cut than I imagined. Instead, there are more personal, inside jokes and incidental humor that have translated into the video's development. I do not think that these qualities are bad, as they do seem to have been necessary for a strong and more direct development of content. My video now feels more like an honest portrayal of a period in my life and a reflection of this transitional state as a person. After showing it in public for the first time at Lawrence University's New Media Showcase the other night, I have found more comfort and reassurance in my final video than I expected. I was given a great deal of positive feedback without any real negative criticism, which whether good or bad is a first for me. This has made me feel more confident in my abilities to navigate mixed media projects and it has shown me the value of what I have actually done. It is easy to overlook some of the significance of a project while working towards completion, but having shown my video and rested on this incarnation of my story for a while, I have been able to see more value in my own work. My video has also become a tool and a statement for my analysis and ability to cope with these events and circumstances in my life. They help me look more closely and examine the issues that have affected me most in the process of re-Americanizing. There were certain challenges in presenting a narrative that dwells on a lot of past events and changes that were largely internal and not on video to share with the viewer. I was uncertain as to how my handling of these topics would really work out, but towards the end of editing everything began to fit in a synergistic fashion and the response of viewers has shown me that I was affective in communicating my ideas to them without sacrificing the humorous or realistic aspects of my content. I hope that this video also has the ability to reach others and enable them to relate the issues I have been grappling with to their own situations, so that they can deal with their own circumstances better or at least look at things from a different point of view. I hope that in seeing the construct that I present, others will continue to question some of the topics of cultural identity, adaptation, and personal opinion that I have raised.

Jordan Severson


Just a step away

It is sometimes really helpful for me to think about progress in steps or separate phases. That way I keep moving and focus on one thing at a time, but when I look back I see that I have accomplished more than I am aware of even after I started thinking about my video in a final phase. Once it got to a certain degree of finish I started thinking of things in terms of finishing touches on a minor scale, but in some ways I have been doing more work or at least more intensive alteration since I have entered this stage. There are always a few more things that I'd like to tweak and play around with. I hope that feeling serves the project well, but I also I hope I do reach a state where I can feel satisfied with the product to feel like the video has reached my original or revised set of goals and encapsulates the message that I want viewers to receive. I have been working to swap out and trim down some of the current scene choices to make the video a bit tighter, more direct, and more effective.

The result of changing, trimming,and adding footage, not to mention credits and titles, has put me very near 10 minutes. I think that means I still have a good minute and a half by which to reduce my video so that I safely fit within the confines of the ten minute viewing timeslot with a brief introduction and maybe a question or two, barring technical difficulties. I hope to avoid technical difficulties by starting to think about putting my project on dvd middle to late next week when I still have time to work out kinks in the final stages of development. This week I have done a lot of tedious fiddling with minor parts to get them right, find a medium between abrupt and lengthy transitions, add some subtle filters for emphasis and some aesthetic purpose(rather than unnecessary dazzle), and try to consider solutions for some of the criticism I have received. So far, these general issues seem to be getting resolved better than I anticipated.

My next concern is music. I want to keep the strongest portions of the video intact without detracting with music, but I think it will also help make some of the less effective transitions work, and generally help hold the video together. I am a bit apprehensive because I don't want to disrupt the current tone of the film or overemphasize it too much, just compliment it. I have been dabbling with Garageband and I have started recording material for background sound, but I am not far enough along to say how much it will help. I definitely think music is important to the communication of a vision if applied more judiciously than arbitrarily. One of my concerns is vocal use. I think that is the most effective and also the most dangerous part of adding music. I don't want to steal anything from dialogue, but some parts may not make sense to have solely instrumental music. Both can be powerful if used well. I have also been trying to find the right angle on my working title. Here are some of my considerations:

Un/Familiar Voyage
Reverse Shock: An Uncanny Journey
Raw Shock: A Story of Return
Raw Shock: A Study in Cultural Adaptation

I think that the title should be open to interpretation to make the viewer wonder, but also be applicable enough to suggest that some kind of analysis is taking place.


Jordan Severson

First, kill classic rock

I was very interested in James Danky's presentation for a number of reasons. I have been a pretty avid comicbook reader since I was a child. I can remember trips to the comic book store, and waiting patiently for my subscription to Spider-man, Thor, Wolverine, or some other book to begin arriving in the mail. That I still think that anticipation was one of the greatest parts about being a child. I also have a deep appreciation for underground and DIY movements. Naturally I respect and find intrigue in the combination of these two in the format of underground comix. I have also found an interest in zines and other narrowly circulated, independent works. They appeal to my thirst for creativity and shared knowledge, as well as my belief that everyone should have an outlet and ability to produce something creatively to share their ideas and experiences. James made a lot of interesting references that were the benefit of his experience as a historian and his understanding of the way that unlikely sources may influence someone's work. It really does take a lot to change ideas and concepts that are currently being practiced, which is why such an underground movement as comix can be so fascinating. From zines and underground newspapers into more social and political issues in the more difficult to market artwork of Clay Wilson or Wilt Elder, Danky found relevance and history where no one else was seeking it. Danky was able to find meaning and importance in all these deviant artworks as demonstrated by the comparisons with classical art that he made with his students. This interest and relevance continued until recognition for these works started to come and eventually changed to movement drive the artists into other areas and even mainstream for a new kind of attention. The fact that Danky picked up on something to research and investigate that no one else paid any attention to, demonstrates how perceptive an individual he is. It takes a careful eye and a lot of courage to start something that no one else cares about. I am glad that people like Danky are around to start looking into what no once else gives attention to.

Jordan Severson

The Radicant: the end, the beginning, or just another root?

Nicolas Bourriaud closes his book with a summation of concepts--being tied together? He addresses issues of appropriation, copy, and decisions. He makes an interesting point in that the fast-paced world of today continues to value time over space so that duplications are no big deal. people are borrowing and using shortcuts to produce, perhaps putting less effort into their own contributions expecting that someone else will borrow from them in turn. Is this the answer to the questions we have about the future of art? Does this provide us with what we came seeking when we picked up the Radicant? While all these concepts may prove thought provoking, I have to wonder if this is what is really happening. Have people really begun to abandon effort and craftsmanship for convenience and ease? I think some have, but I do not think that this is all we have to look forward to. Is Bourriaud guilty of these transgressions (perhaps innovations to him) himself? This book relies heavily on connections by nature, are all these references and thoughts something new, something old re-hashed to appear less lazy, or something different?

Monsieur Bourriaud, have I not been patient with you and your ideas? Why do you leave so many unanswered questions, hasty proclamations, and half-solutions? Why must you leave a bad taste in my mouth? Should a radicant ever really meet itself to become so entangled or neatly wrapped up and controlled by its own roots? Shouldn't it expand on into the infinite without the traditional closure of a book? If the author believes so adamantly in the future of art, the internet, mixed media, etc. and has such a great understanding of the direction in which these things will progress, why does he even bother with the obsolete format of a printed book? Why should he even publish his work? Why wasn't it composed and limited to exist solely on the internet, the vehicle of his radicant? Should I have obtained a Kindle and read this book through that lens to understand what I am missing? Why are he and his writing so obviously French and Franco-minded in a day when the ever-diverse radicant is drawing from whatever sources are of relative convenience, regardless of individual culture or perspective? Could not these views or exercises be demonstrated in a more complete way? How limited is the thought of one who extols limitless possibilities? How does one provide so little when one purports to have so many explanations?

Ok, N.B.
Good talk.

Jordan Severson

p.s. Radicant, Altermodernism, Post-post, etc. would it be too much to ask that some better terminology be developed? Words need not be slaves to the concepts they describe.


One more step

I am pleased that I have met my goal of creating a rough cut of my video to show for my class progress report. I got the video to work out enough to have some semblance of my original vision and I cut it down to a pretty controlled length of 8:45 min. I got a select amount of criticism, but what I heard from people so far was really helpful. There are some very particular things that people drew my attention to:

I need to think about the intro and title, the transitions of scenes, having more problems to display my point further with the plot, adding more humor, adding some of my other types of footage to round out what I have chosen, of course I need to finish trimming it down, and I am considering a bit more video to shoot that could bring together a different kind of conclusion if I wanted a more closed ending.
I am pleased, but I still have a great deal of work to do. It is at this sort of stage in such a project that I think a little discipline and pacing go a long way. In considering this, I was reminded of a song that has always caught my fancy conceptually. It is called "Imprint" by a band that was called doubleDrive. It has always felt for me to be a calming kind of concept to consider when I need to focus on something and take it one step at a time. I will include a Youtube video for this song. That being said, I want to also consider some more audio for my video and try to think about scoring my video also to give a more complete feeling to the finished product.

Jordan Severson

Philosophy and the Radicant

The second part of Nicolas Bourriaud's The Radicant deals with altermodern concepts further with an increase in discussion of philosophy and and influential thinkers. It seems that this portion is less effective in introducing more concepts, but more concerned with elaborating the concepts already introduced to delve deeper into the meaning and relationships of the continuing conceptual themes.
Bourriaud starts to introduce examples, largely consisting of art work by Damien Hirst and Marceld Duchamp's readymades to point to how art has evolved to new places compared to what used to be acceptable on an intellectual level in the art world. This allows him to propose ways in which art might be changing in the present to become something new in the future and what sort of implications that the birth of web 2.o may hold for the future. Bourriaud discusses ideas of Walter Benjamin that were critical in the development of discourse surrounding topics like the results of image reproduction through mechanical means, which leads to the current question of what will happen to art once digital, and internet media so dominates our culture that those traditional means are all but forgotten. Benjamin argues in one of his most influential essays that an original image has an "aura" comprised of its unique, original existence, individual history and uncorrupted characteristics that cannot be observed by any form of reproduction. What will happen to such an "aura" on the internet? Can art made on a computer and existing only on the internet to begin with have some kind of "aura," or does it even really exist as an art object at all? Critics like Clement Greenberg pushed for art to be produced in its purest and most honest form, which was for him a reduction and emphasis on the use and demonstration of the most basic and essential tools of art. This led to works by the likes of Frank Stella, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, and many others to create a form of art that best embodied this minimalist sort of intellectual art. What might be the result of such a direction of simplification or emphasis on basic elements when applied to internet and computer media? It seems that Bourriaud poses his earlier concepts and conjectures of the Radicant to answer these questions and predict the direction of his altermodern, but I am not so sure it is convincing.

Jordan Severson

What drives our art?

Slime mold, matthew barney, wow report, beirut, michael jackson...what do they all have in common? They all provide inspiration and serve as either mentor, or muse to my classmates. These and all the other choices for the projects we've undertaken are all interesting and diverse interests. It would seem that my classmates have a great many inspirations for their work and it is fascinating to see the relationships between some of these choices of inspiration and the projects that have been developed in connection with them. Even though some relationships seem more direct and obviously connected to the end product than others appear on the surface, these choices have all had interesting impacts on individual works of art. I have to say that my own choice seems plain and ordinary by comparison.

I had difficulty picking a mentor that I saw could be easily related and explained to others. My first instinct was to report on my inspiration from a man named Juan Carlos whom I met in Siena. The difficulty is that I have no real facts or information concerning this man and sometimes I am not convinced myself that he actually exists. He was the most remarkably positive person I have ever met, a practicing artist despite all of his life's hardships, and he is a man who has discovered the secret to his own happiness. He is the type of man who can make you feel incredibly good about your life just by sharing some of his life stories to show that your life is not so bad and that if he can still be this positive you had better be. Juan Carlos is the type of man that can tell you everything that you want or need to hear, but make you actually believe it in a way you never thought possible. He is the type man that I aspire to be, an artist who works by his own methods and standards to accomplish his goals and reach people in a way that is very rare. Unfortunately, I have found no traces of this man on the internet yet even though I know that he has art around the U.S. and Europe and has impacted many lives besides my own. He still remains mysterious and seemingly unreal or invisible even though he is impacting so many with his artwork. I hope that some day I may do the same with my artwork.

I ended up picking Christopher Nolan because of his works like Memento, and the Prestige. I half wish that I would have found something a bit less obvious or mainstream to impact my video in a less blatant and perhaps more fruitful way. However, I think that the connections I made did provide some necessary structure and goal to my project. I thought about new video techniques, using filters like sepia tone, to add a reminiscent quality and increase emphasis by using contrast to tie my scenes together better.

Jordan Severson


Objective: Succinctness

This week I did shoot a little more video including some scenes with friends and my nephew. However, I also came to the realization that I need to revise my ideas a bit. I am putting my original objectives aside in attempts to reduce my concepts into something practical and streamlined. In researching mentors I have considered the benefits of taking bold, decisive steps with my video to convey a message that meets my aim. I have plenty of material, so I have primarily been reviewing and editing it. I have one final cut project that is already close to five minutes, but does not adequately encapsulate what I imagine for my final product. I think I will now reorder and reconsider those clips, cut them down or cut them out, and try a slightly different approach to matching up scenes once I have redesigned the structure of plot points and interviews. I now see that I must be more deliberate, and concise in my integration of the two. I hope to spend enough time editing in the following days to be on the right track by the showing of my rough cut next week. I believe it takes a great deal more skill to make a short video than a long one. Perhaps, I will continue with my larger ideas later, but for now I hope I am up to the task of revising my vision for brevity. I am going to try to think about styles and techniques of condensing narration that are used in music videos and movie trailers to find a better way of conveying a strong message in a few minutes of time.

Jordan Severson


Where to roost when your home is deforested

Hearing Jodi Sedlock speak about her personal history and path to her current profession was very interesting. Her unorthodox pathway to a career in science through the beginnings of artwork shows how people can achieve their goals through their own methods and by figuring out everything as they go along. Going to art school to find that anatomy classes and an injury lead to an internship and a desire to pursue biology is certainly not the usual way to find a profession, but it does point out that alternative avenues can be useful in finding ideal prospects.
The idea that art attracts attention needed to support scientific research as well as other avenues is very reassuring. Often many overlook how much art plays a role in the things around them by contributing something that they do not recognize or interpret as art.

I think that is very encouraging to someone pursuing art because it shows that there is a place for creativity in many areas that may not consider at first. It is true that desperation breeds both motivation and creativity. I think Jodi shows that it is possible to pursue a course that is natural in order to find what it is you want to do. Sometimes you may have to stray from your interests to find new ones. I think that my video relates to the idea of cryptic diversity that Jodi spoke of in relation to bats. Sometimes, we assume that since we are all humans or all of a particular religion, race, country, etc. we must have the similar perspectives and beliefs. However, often the people that seem the most like us on the surface end up being deceptively different and we don't really know until we look closer. The difference in bats can be small or large in something as simple as navigation when some bats have a vastly wider perception of food sources just because they see in a different way. I hope that my video demonstrates that the same is true for people. Upon closer inspection of ideas and perspectives that those in close proximity take for granted, we may realize that there is a greater variety of perspectives and methods available to us and it is foolish to settle for only one fraction of them. The Bat theme also correlates with my mentor research as I have been researching Christopher Nolan as a possible candidate. Although it is not the reason why I have been researching, Nolan has achieved a great deal of fame recently as director of the newest Batman film franchise.

Jordan Severson


A Reading Period's Progression

I feel that I have made some valuable progress over reading period. I always think there could have been a little more, but I am satisfied that I got some great footage of events that will help me structure the daily events portion of my film that will help to advance some kind of plot with in my piece however minimal it may be in the end (I would like to point out that some of the most successful videos to my mind are capable of having very little plot, but survive on character development and other elements: e.g. Seinfeld and the show about nothing idea). Anyway, I have begun using the flip style mino camera, which I like now that I have gotten used to it. It is a bit shaky at times, especially while zoomed, but it is decent to manage. I also do like some of the differences in film quality and as before I do embrace some of the home-video feeling for my project. I really like that the camera is so small and portable. I have been taking it around with me and been able to capture a lot more unplanned events as they occur to assist in obtaining a natural, organic feel to my scenes. I don't want them to feel stiff and scripted, but realistic and believable. This camera seems to allow me to accomplish this with much less effort and also more discreetly. Another good aspect of this camera is the ability to capture the already created clips from usb connection, rather than from mini dv tapes, which can be frustrating. This is a lot easier and less hassle when I want to keep shooting video and worry less about securing my footage.

This weekend I was able to film: interactions with one of my friends from Florence study abroad, some first person view fencing, public encounters in stores, and a development of characters/ establishment of cameraman identity.

I plan to have some more shots in the coming week that will follow more of my original vision: a professor interview, interactions with my nephew, more conflict development, the role of friends, and some of the resolution to the film.

Overall, I think that my video is getting much closer to the point where I can delve into a lot of editing and reduce the amount of time I spend filming.

Jordan Severson


Continued Efforts

This week I began shooting footage of the daily events in the storyline of my project. I hope to get most of these done soon, perhaps next week to really get the important plot points shot to add into my project right away to establish a good structure. Currently I have just been capturing and sorting out a lot of my clips. I have also begun examining the larger chunks of footage to create the necessary subclips for insertion into the project where necessary. I feel like once I have those most important scenes captured and placed in my project, I can start editing and progressing a lot faster with Finalcut without worrying. I will continue to conduct interviews as I have been and the rest of my filming and addition should come pretty naturally to develop as I go. I have also gotten a lot of good fencing footage, which may play into my video more or less than I originally thought. For now, I have done some work and gotten a lot of good footage at my disposal to select exactly what I want, whether most of the footage is used or not. I have included a clip here as this is some of the most recent footage I have captured and I promised to include one this week.

Jordan Severson

John McKinnon: Misconceptions of the late Andy Warhol

Warhol's embrace of commercialism is, in some ways, continually relevant for artists. But even more relevant than that tendency to examine and use the commercialism that is still so deeply embedded within our culture is the reality of getting trapped between the old habits and bodies of work as one's repertoire might tend to find comfort in repetition and the urge to branch out in search of a new direction of creativity. The risk of this is that for someone like Warhol it means that the public may not follow his new interests and thus, he was relatively ignored in the latter period of his life. McKinnon makes this point up front as a reason to explore and understand Warhol's later works outside of the instinct to ignore his later works. It is interesting to find how fruitful this time in his life was following the attempt on his life when he began searching for new avenues in his art. When I think of myself as an artist, I have similar struggles when trying to consider whether it is best to stick with a style, series, or project long enough to create something larger and more recognizable of to change more quickly toward improvement and untouched potential. I am currently trying to find a way to explore this personal tension in my work while drawing off of my experiences abroad in Italy.

Warhol was able to find concepts and ideas worth pursuit anywhere he went (e.g. suggestion of camouflage or looking through magazine ads) and he also made use of collaboration to draw off of artists like Basquiat. While visiting the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, I saw a silkscreen of Mount Vesuvius that was a commission from Warhol. He also appeared in many photographs in another part of the modern art wing as a collaborator and social figure. I think that this sort of reach and depth of Warhol even after he was regarded as washed up (though he was still producing copious amounts of new concepts and pieces that revisiting old subject matter) shows Warhol's true artistic strength in his ability to draw from a variety of sources and inspirations, internalize the concepts that he witnessed or designed and reapply or redistribute the benefits of his experiences through works that took advantages of all the connections he made with the world. It would seem that this sort of characteristic is what made Warhol a modern artist with a success that remains after him even if his popularity waned during his lifetime. I hope to find ways to combine my own interests in all my artwork, and especially my video, to make similarly strong connections that take advantage of my experiences.


Jordan Severson


Klaus Nomi: Personality Construct

Prior to watching this film, I did not really know who Nomi was, but I had some vague familiarity with him. I think it must have just been as one of my classmates pointed out, he is one of those character types that has been digested by American pop culture and regurgitated in small pieces every now and again as new stars in the mainstream spotlight see fit to take cues from Nomi. There were many good perspectives and concepts that came up in our discussion regarding his appearance as a deliberately constructed persona who may have merely stumbled upon post-modernism. But what really strikes me is that no matter how many of his "friends" were interviewed, one could never get much of a feeling from the documentary as to Nomi's "real" or private identity. Maybe he became completely consumed by the character that he designed to play for the rest of his life, but I have to believe he was something else initially and once he was there on his deathbed, with everyone too afraid of Aids to come and visit the sad and lonely performer. It is sad that things ended up that way and that it seems somehow fitting in the eyes of certain people that he had such a dramatic end, but it is also understandable. I don't think Nomi realized everyone he pushed away in his search to achieve a tangible fame, until he needed those whom he alienated. At any rate, I understand that a lot of figures since have developed similar stage characters to stick with, but there is more ambiguity in Nomi. How conscious was his stage character's development? I have to wonder whether some of the aspects and character traits were not just parts of his imagination ready to surface or things that were already close to him and just seemed natural to develop further and accentuate or exaggerate. It seems like he became virtually indistinguishable from his stage self, and that makes me wonder how intentional each aspect of that personality was for him. Perhaps his imagination and intuition led him naturally down the path of such a character combining opera and other types of music in a unique juxtaposition. I think, in some ways that separates him from those figures who came later trying to find some sort of strange, yet memorable gimmick to cling to in hopes that it would catapult them effortlessly to fame. Little bits of many things remind me of Klaus and I think that shows a remarkable impact for such a performer that really only produced about three albums without much behind them. An example is a rather minor connection I made with a musician that I admire, (not personally, but for his music in content and style, as well as the great obstacles he has overcome just like Klaus) Chris Volz. Volz is a vocalist that founded some bands I listen to like Flaw and Five.Bolt.Main, and then went on to make a solo album that turned out a little strange in my opinion. Volz lived with a stepmother when he was young and she trained him vocally because she was an opera singer. Later, Volz had gone through a very difficult childhood including experiencing the suicide of his stepmothere and he went on to form hard rock or metal alternative bands like those mentioned. What I like about him is that he incorporates those experiences he's had into his music and feeds off of them to create something that many "angry teenagers" can enjoy or at least relate to. He also has a unique vocal style due to the formal opera kind of training that he received. He is able to display a beautiful voice and then switch in a brief moment to yells and screams of agony and betrayal only to return to a soft and gentle melody. I find all of these characteristics interesting parallels to Klaus and although I see no direct correlation, I am sure that some of the Chris Volz type musicians in the world could not survive today without having had certain avenues paved by the likes of Klaus Nomi.

Jordan Severson


Onward and Upward

This week I got some good interview footage with the help of my friend Nate. I got a substantial interview with him that we actually managed to be more of a friendly dialogue so that it was like a dual-interview with the two of us. It covered a lot of the topics and questions that I wanted to make sure to fit into the interview portion of the video, so I think I might turn this interview into a lot of subclips to splice into the movie at the appropriate intervals. I think I have also solved a few of the other issues I have been having with timecode errors and whatnot. I was able to capture and store the majority of my footage so far. I hope to continue with some interviews (I have already discussed this with some more candidates) as well as begin filming the fictional, scripted portion of my movie. I have also thought that I might try some things I have thought of as ways to integrate other materials I have at my disposal into my finalcut project. For example, I think I may want to include some of my images from Italy as transitions in the film when they make sense, rather than always fading to black. I am also hoping to do some shooting of a fencing tournament this weekend because that will provide a different atmosphere and it will take me to a different environment where there is a different kind of diversity than at Lawrence. Some of the fencing teams that LU competes against recruit students from specific countries because of their fencing skill and I think that could be interesting difference in perspective, especially since other countries put a much different emphasis on this and other sports. I'll try to add some footage of that next week when I have it. I have also had a little difficulty in finding some time in which to film part of my project that requires several people at the same time and a friend that may visit campus to have a role in the film. I think I might employ Doodle to try and make this task easier, so we'll see.

Jordan Severson


Abigail Disney: a preacher of peace

I have a few thoughts after seeing/hearing Abigail Disney speak at convocation. In some ways I am a bit surprised at the aim of her lecture. I did expect that there would be a bit more of her perspective of producing Pray the Devil Back to Hell from the perspective of her making the movie, but that did not seem to be very high on her list. All the same I felt like I could relate to a lot of what she said in a way that surprised me. I found some parallels in her motives and my own reasons to make a video. I have a lot of respect for her decision to chronicle a movement and all the actions of the women in Ligeria even though they were being ignored or seen as relatively unimportant by politicians and media alike. It is that sort of view that makes me distrust or at least have little respect for the media as an entity for legitimate and relevant information. There were several phrases, sort of one-liners, that stuck out to me as being very effective. Whether they were quotes or her own words, I think they were carefully selected, like she described as something simple, yet powerful that will stick with you. I think these helped to provide a brief concept or idea in a way that makes one recondsider their own flawed perceptions based on the events and experiences that took place in Ligeria. Some examples include:
"Is war fate? or just failure of imaginating"
"Masculinity is used as the primary means of coercion"
"Those constantly relegated to the margins will eventually have skills that are useful in the page's center"
"war is a failure to see equality of all people"
and of course, "peace is a process, not an event"
All these are simple phrases that can be paired with the interviews that she had with crimelords and activists, and even one's own thoughts to realize that issues we feel are solidified, not only in our minds but in the world can actually be seen and understood from a different perspective. This concept is one that has opened my own mind and I agreed as soon as she made mention of spending some time abroad to see how the American perspective is limited. Having recently done so, I realized the validity of her point immediately and I think this is one of the reasons that drove me to explore some of the similar concepts of trying to show the difference between cultural perspectives and approaches to the same problems in life. I think that she could not be more right to show that American priorities tend to be consistently askew in some areas, and we generally seem to have a more distant response to powerful events than other cultures. Though she used her documentary and interviews to show people how change is possible and screened her movie in a multitude of countries to spread the message of Liberia's accomplishment, I think that my method will be relying on the insertion of some humorous anecdotes to help people in their mental gymnastics when considering new ideas. A good dose of humor like the one below, can be pretty strong in drawing an audience into the frame of mind you want them to experience without resistance or resentment and also without the need for an obsequious viewer. I think that her most powerful impact on me may have came from the idea of her screenings. She described a sense of her own satisfaction in being able to see the various responses and reactions to her video and the immediate effect it can have on the viewer: what will we do here, today to take action in our community? I think this must be most fulfilling to see this sort of result yielded from your own creation. It makes me think that I can hope for a similar satisfaction on a smaller scale if I complete my video and screen it with different audiences.

Jordan Severson


Off and Running

So, my project seems to be underway sufficiently. This week I got my external hard drive and most everything else I need for my project in order. I oriented myself with both Garageband and Final Cut Express on a basic level. I practiced using both and investigated some of the basic functions. Garageband seems fairly simple and intuitive to use, especially from knowing some similar music programs a bit more intimately. I had a few more issues getting used to Final Cut, but now that I worked them out and played around with some footage, I think I will be able to progress fairly quickly. The layout and some of the basic steps of starting a project are a bit confusing until you get used to some of the concepts, but they soon begin to seem quite useful for a great degree of control. Once I was able to figure out how to open and manage my project so that I can save all my clips and other project materials to my hard drive, things got much easier. I have a couple clips already and I think I have decided to keep adding them to the project as I go. I have a few little issues with audio compatibility and some settings that don't always agree, but I am sure I will continue to work those things out as I go. Overall, it seems like I have the basics down to start working without spending much more time figuring out the things I absolutely need to do with the program. I think that will enable me to gradually improve without slowing down production until I am fairly proficient. I also used the camera quite a bit with practice footage and some of the actual interviews and things that I may include in the final project. That makes me feel generally like I am at a pretty good starting point to just go ahead and start getting all the footage I want without worrying about comfort with the equipment. I know now that some of the little things will be decided for how I want to conduct interviews and get some of the other footage I need, though I am sure I will adapt my plans as I go through each stage to make everything easier.

Jordan Severson


Diverging Paths Connect: Nicolas Bourriaud's The Radicant

I don't know where to begin discussing The Radicant because it takes a great deal of time to read, for me. This is not because I find it too difficult to understand or can't relate to it, but quite the opposite. I find it dense and thought-provoking. There are so many concepts contained within that I can only take in bits at a time as my head starts reeling from all the possibilities and thoughts that are relevant to my mind and my situation. I will attempt because of this truth, to limit myself and challenge myself to find and highlight only those things that I find most important and the most recurring concepts in my own mind. To start off, I find the term radicant as defined by Bourriaud to be very well-stated and aptly described. I think that the progression of the internet and technology along the current path is very much like a system of roots that spreads out and connects wherever possible. I will also say that this a very large concept when I think about what that means to the lives of us here, and now experiencing these changes and networks. It can be scary and exciting simultaneously, perhaps with a bit of beauty thrown in. When described in that way, I might start to think that new media and internet possibilities have a achieved a level of sublime, though I am not sure that is accurate to say. I think that Bourriaud's raising of the issue of video is very interesting. He has a good basis for predictions about future trends from the unique kinds of statistics he picks up about particular video content and shifts from completely original concepts to the increasing trend of borrowing, remixing, or creating any type of mash-up that has been becoming increasingly simple and more prevalent. There is a valid point here when he speaks about not a decrease in creativity, rather a different emphasis on speed and a different type of creativity to create new things from preexisting or borrowed elements. From there, the possibilities become more spread out as he discusses how much more video use and uploading exists now because of Youtube and all the similar video platforms. It is exciting, though I think also daunting and a bit frightening to consider that, indeed in a short time there may be little of our lives that goes undocumented by video or does not become digitized, transformed, and edited for display in a variety of possibilities. I have similar mixed feelings about the consideration of measuring greatly different artists and their works in the same place and time regardless of the circumstances of their works' production. The fact that such information as well as cultural, regional, and chronological aspects of oeuvre and identity could be so blurred as to become irrelevant or impossible to ascertain when judging the content of work. Will that eradicate the need for criticism, comparison, and evaluation all together? If there are no differences of creation that can be depended upon, will there be differences in result or will art just become more similar as all the divergent ideas and concepts become melded into the web 2.0 world? It is appealing to think of such freedom from stereotypes and unfair judgement or no judgement at all, but then what becomes of art? Will it continue to have value and purpose or just become a mass of indistinguishable content that is too difficult to measure or understand? If the things that we are experiencing now and witnessing the changes of are all part of the Web 2.0, what will a Web 3.0 do to change the way we disburse and collect information. I don't think art can ever be the same in times that are so quickly changing just like The Radicant explores artists' new approaches to investigating time, history, post colonialism and other themes. Bourriaud's suspicion that the next wave of art after post modernism will not be a group of concepts and trends that spread globally, rather ideas that will start off as global "from scratch." If this is true, where does that leave criticism and the art history that discusses and classifies trends once they have happened? Will it, too, have to speed up and become global to develop simultaneously with such a movement, or would it fall behind and be done away with in the process of streamlining to only necessity and removing anything that seems obsolete? It becomes evermore unreliable and perhaps futile to speculate as technology changes and updates the world so rapidly.

Jordan Severson


Laurie Anderson: Intersection of Arts

Laurie Anderson: On Performance provides a revealing look into the artists thoughts and ideas even more than it explores her particular works. Laurie Anderson is an interesting artist because she crosses into so many areas with her artwork. She has taken performance art and technology to new levels and even made her way into pop music and inventing with tools for her violins and other compositions. Some of her concepts are more interesting, but what is most important is the way she keeps developing and changing herself with the times. It is remarkable that she can keep going and sustain some of her methods and concepts so consistently and is not afraid to create a body of work and then change direction or back off from a particular idea when it is no longer foremost in her mind. I find her personality and thoughts to be most interesting and I find similarities in some of her perspectives with some of my own thoughts on the issues. I found her fascination with Van Gogh and the need to compare artists to him whether there existed a direct parallel or not to be a humorous, but understandable occurrence. I think we all run into something that is so relevant to us that we fixate on it to the point that it bothers others. I also understand her desire to incorporate her daily experiences into her life since that is one of the directional influences on my current video project. I also see a parallel in the wish to explore the voices each person adopts in each context that they find themselves in. This sort of interest is one of the reasons why I am attracted to the idea of combining daily happenings and scripted events with the sort of personal interview to show the different sides of characters. My ideas also tie into the way Anderson chooses to view her work as a sort of discourse with the viewer, I value that sort of perspective on the relationship between artist and viewer as well. I do hope that my project will open up ideas and concepts to my viewers in the same fashion. I think that artwork is more valuable to both parties when the works are capable of opening such an exchange of ideas. Her discussion of documentation of her work was quite provocative and reminded me of Walter Benjamin's famous essay, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. I often have conflicting concerns about documenting my own work and it is easy to see that the exact occurrence of the performance event, or the "aura" of an original work for Benjamin, cannot be summarized or substituted in any way. There are certain works, especially in crossover and performance art that just cannot have a surrogate or faithful preservation and it begs the question, "should we even try to preserve something that is inadequate?" I think Laurie is right in classifying our culture as overly fast and I feel there needs to be those individuals willing to take the time to slow people down and scare people to thinking about what they take for granted. Such a message is needed far more frequently than it is received. The last point of interest for me in Anderson's perspective was that of the love-hate relationship that she has with technology. I often feel some of the same frustrations and elations that she also gets from technological advancement. People do use language as a defense and a crutch to help or protect them from the things they find uncomfortable, but I find this unacceptable and unhealthy because there are some times when one really needs to experience something uncomfortable for a change. If you only had comfort all the time, you would cease to know what it is. Discomfort is necessary to know comfort by comparison. I also agree that people have different styles of communication just like voices depending on context. I personally hate talking on the phone and always have had this sort of aversion because it makes people act differently and makes them feel like it is okay to be less polite or formal and to say things that they ordinarily wouldn't. Anderson spoke about this more in terms of the computer and how e-mail changes conceptions of communications to encourage the feeling of no responsibility for increased use of profanity and a reduction of flexibility through fixed comments and policies. I think this is a very perceptive observation. I notice more personal frustration with people's tendencies to be less formal, clear, or grammatically correct than is necessary and at the same time they are reducing their actual social interactions by substituting with computer chat or other networking made possible by the internet.
Jordan Severson


Thoughts on Buckminster Fuller

Upon reading articles and watching a documentary on Buckminster Fuller it is apparent how influential his thoughts have been and just how much of a free thinker and bold mind he was. He was a true Jack-of-all-trades type character. He was truly an astoundingly radical thinker and did not limit himself to conventional thought or any single field. It is wonderful that he was able to recognize and overcome common flaws through his non-disciplinary, holistic approach to solving projects. Besides the Geodesic Dome, he thought of other minimalist and environmentally friendly solutions to basic problems that most people fail to solve. His Dymaxion car and transportable, efficient homes were a good deal before their time. His ideas where expressed long before the public minds were ready to accept solutions because they had not yet even perceived the problems that bothered Fuller so. I find his points about flaws with conventional thought and education very interesting, I agree that many of our problems stem from these basic issues, but I did not see how deep they can be prior to studying Fuller's ideas. I think that he is set apart even from other original thinkers because he attempted to show ways to correct the thoughts of others on a basic level and he designed tools like more accurate world map projections to allow others to gain a more accurate view of the Earth. Though some of his stories, word-building, and concepts like "spaceship earth," were perhaps humorous, they also demonstrate how far beyond his contemporaries his thoughts were. I agree that some basic teaching techniques and concepts really hold back education and society. Conditioning ourselves to think of concepts like infinity really does distract us from how much does not belong in that category. Fake jobs, jobs that shouldn't even exist, that are liked by no one and accomplish nothing are all too real. This is another frustration that I have long shared with Mr. Fuller. I find that these concepts fit in with what I am attempting with my project because part of my goals are to disassemble some of the ways most individuals are misinformed about and do not think about in regards to cultures that are not their own. I absolutely believe this is because of that sort of contagious, group mentality, consistent and predictable thought that Fuller rebelled against. This aspect of Buckminster Fuller reminds me of an Australian movie I saw recently called The Rage in Placid Lake. This movie uses stereotypical roles to show how absurd people can be and the situations they can unwittingly produce. The protagonist is a unique and original thinker who is persecuted to the point of a horrible accident at which point he gets back at everyone by becoming more normal and ordinary than the rest of them can do. Eventually they all grow to hate him that way too, so that he can safely be himself once more. So many think what is comfortable or convenient rather than thinking for themselves or pursuing their own hunches and intuitions to investigate how things truly are, rather than how we are told things are. These concepts we are taught are diluted, simplified and corrupted to be fed to the masses who wish not to think or have individual thought. Fuller saw these problems and created solutions for people who did not even realize they had these issues and are still not looking for resolution for most of them. I believe this is why his concepts were not accepted and employed even though they were similar or superior to what has become commonplace like automobiles or homes that are only now starting to be made efficient on a small scale compared to Fuller's models. The problem is that he had no real way to implement or get enough people to buy into things to make them spread and prosper. This is one of the problems that I have been dealing with in my own thoughts on my project. If people get one thing from my video, I want it to be that they should consider or learn more about other cultures and perspectives and to realize that there are places in the world that have different priorities and still function as well, if not better than the USA with their own ideas. I see that the Italian people are relaxed have little stress compared to the US, but the country would not function or be possible to exist in this way if they didn't all adhere to or understand a different outlook on the concept of time as they do. If you have too many Americans thinking time is an all important, money producing deity, then this beautiful Italian way of life is destroyed as our heinous and pervasive American ideals already threaten to do. This is directly related to Fuller's, "think about what you want to and what needs to be done," approach to careers. I agree that everyone should do what they want to do and destroy the rest of the fake jobs, but this does not happen because too many fear, too many are used to accepting a lifestyle that tells them they have to be unhappy to get what they want. If we all disregarded these concepts and decided altogether simultaneously to do what we want for a living, I think it would actually work, but that would take such convincing and simultaneous action that even the internet is not yet up for the task. Buckminster Fuller proved that one individual can realize this sort of ideal for their own life, but for the rest of people to get this message it will take a lot more.
Jordan Severson


Video Plans: Script and Plot

Today, I met with Ian to discuss some of the details of the video as we begin to plan it out in more detail. We discussed primarily the key plot points and how to introduce the concepts of the film in its beginning as well as uses for other characters. My character, I will be myself in the film, is starting a video project out concern for issues of reverse culture shock and paranoia that results from focusing on this phenomenon that I had previously disregarded. The video will then follow my progress as I make the transition from life in Italy back to Appleton, Wisconsin at a new and improved Lawrence University. We discussed the rest of the plot as it will unfold with my life and become entwined with Ian's own media project with the services he offers on campus coming to my aid in search to find peace and resolution for my difficulties coping with my change of lifestyle. We decided upon a number of events and locations to film as well as some of the interactions of specific characters and the role of interviews in the film. We imagine the film to be a sort of daily diary with excerpts that serve as anecdotes in my daily life as my situation progresses with time. Then the interviews will be perspectives of the different characters or sometimes my own thoughts and reflections of events as they occur to provide the viewer with other information. We imagined that this would be a style that adds insight and humor to the context of events in a similar use to this style of cut away interview scene used in a show like The office. After finishing discussion of all the necessary elements and brainstorming ideas for the interview questions and other daily events to be covered in the film, Ian and I began to layout a plan of action for the coming days to get started on the project and get everything in order to proceed ahead. We even planned the next time this sort of planning and preparation would continue in our schedule.
Jordan Severson


Possible Video Project

Besides the musical ideas I have been considering and developing with previous posts, I was thinking about another project that would allow me to make a collaborative video that combines some of the knowledge and experiences that I have gained especially from my recent trip abroad in Italy. Today, I thought about some of the things that I have learned and I realized that I may have been wrong to pursue some of the concepts that I had been working on and I found a more elegant solution that might be more all-encompassing of the types of goals that I have with a video project.

One of the amazing people I met abroad was more positive than anyone I have ever met and he is currently a pretty successful painter. Maybe not by everyone's standards, but by mine he is the most successful and knowledgeable person I have come into contact with because he understands life and is not of afraid of anything that it gives him. He remains confident and understands how to make something into nothing, having been completely broke a number of times in his life and recovering to be at an even better stage in his life. He taught me to find something good in a bad situation. Sometimes he had terrible things happen in his life, but rather than quitting when most would, he saw hard times as an opportunity and looked to learn something from even the worst of circumstances because he adamantly believes that things happen for a reason and that everyone has the choice to improve themselves in each situation they find themselves.

While I was realizing how bad I felt for not completing my powerpoint presentation for my class pitch of ideas, somewhat due to technical difficulties and somewhat to my own lack of foresight and preparation, I had one of the moments that my friend described. I discovered an idea that was already in my head, but I just hadn't given adequate thought to. I realized a way to collaborate with friends even though I thought our goals would not line up before. More importantly I think my video concept will allow me to combine many of the ideas I was thinking into something more natural and rewarding to develop as a project. I never would have found this idea that I think is probably the best project choice if I had not messed up and felt terrible about it.

Anyway, I have been thinking of a lot of things since I have a great many ideas from all the stimuli my brain received in Europe, but I have had trouble organizing and deciding exactly which ones to pursue first and to put into my art so as not to waste them. Now I realize my video can combine many of them and the obvious thing to do all along was right in my thoughts. My video project can actually be the process of my organization of thoughts, concepts, memories and decisions how to continue from here. This may not be clear to those reading this post at this time, but I hope to flesh out the details soon.
My basic idea is to create a video that is somewhat documentary, somewhat scripted that shows things from my perspective and also incorporates interviews. The daily kind of interactions that I would film will show progress and other ideas that I have to sort out at the same time as the help I get from friends and use of the knowledge I have gained. At the same time, I want to use the video as a platform for my friend, who will hopefully collaborate on this project, to help boost the notoriety of his own endeavors around campus.

On a basic level, I want to make a video that is pretty humorous and enjoyable that people can relate to in a realistic, but exaggerated way. The best example I can give is It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as in the clip below. It is a story about 5 self-absorbed characters who are realistic, but exaggerated to make hilarious storylines. I plan to highlight issues like cultural differences and change that I have witnessed to make other people more aware of them, but in a way that they can laugh too, and not think about the concepts they are internalizing as they learn from my experiences too. This way, I can share my benefits with others and get some people to laugh. Some of the stylistic aspects I envision come from another tv show I am fond of called trailer park boys. The beauty of this Canadian comedy is that it pretends to be basically what it is. It is in some way mockumentary as a tv crew is hired to follow a couple of guys around the trailer park to see what it is like in their daily lives. In this way, the cameras even become a part of the episodes in a clever way as characters, but also favorable in that they can use a very low-tech, low-budget kind of shooting style that makes the idea more believable and convincing at the same time. I hope to use some similar concepts in my own production.
Jordan Severson


Promising leads from websites and concepts

I have been thinking about different websites lately. All the ones that have interested me or that I have come across and thought would be useful in either developing and idea or using in the execution of a project. A lot of them have to do with music and I am excited by ideas related to the potentials that exist today for making and sharing music. Since there are so many things that disgust and disappoint me about the way the music industry operates, I find it comforting and inevitable that there are now starting to be more solutions for these problems. Thankfully, artists since the birth of underground punk sensibilities and DIY attitudes came about and now artists like Trent Reznor and Radiohead have made progress with internet and digital music disbursal to cut out of the unjust control that the music industry asserts over music. Every day it gets easier for the average person to create and record music on their own computer and then find tools to spread their music on their own. This way those who truly care about music and not just pocketbooks and numbers can share and explore music the way that this process should take place. This makes me smile.

Links that further ideas or facilitate project concepts:
I am intrigued by the ability of internet users to have control over the content they consume.

I am plagued by issues of the need for labels and ambiguity in genre definition. This website helps with that and also the discovery of new music besides sites like Pandora.

Virtual Drumkit? Good idea.

There is software and hardware that is easy to find for all sorts of applications and technological issues. Converting vinyl to digital media is just one of such concerns.

Recording forum helps discover solutions with music difficulties.

The pocketpod is a pretty cool device and probably one of the best gifts I have been given.

This is an interesting interactive website with unique potentials for composition through preset formulas.

Not a groundbreaking concept, but it can stimulate thought.
some cool reference tools

this site is kind of like a myspace or similar forum that helps find opportunities for live venues and other musical avenues.

This one has some good opportunities for music distribution online without a record label.

Some useful links for development and remixing of music.

I hope that by gathering these up and considering them together I will better be able to gauge the ideas that normally float around in my brain at speeds far too fast for consideration. I think that by compiling them and looking at the tendencies in my interests will help direct me or and least get a better idea of what sort of project I would be most interested in pursuing. Then I can revisit them later and see how my thoughts have diverged from the point of these references.
Jordan Severson

Les Paul: A Sound Innovator

I have not been as familiar with Les Paul as I should be. He is important and relevant to me not just because he was a Wisconsinite who became famous, or because he was a prolific guitarist who achieved fame and received great acclaim. He is important because he was a remarkable man who represents a rare type of person who innovated, understood the world around him, understood his own goals, found ways of reaching them, and did plenty more in his lifetime than most could dream of accomplishing. While others were complaining about problems or feeling bad for their situation he was finding solutions and making things up as he went. After leaving Waukesha as a young man, he simultaneously accomplished as a musician, a recording artist, inventor and pioneer in technological advancement. Paul was passionate and unrelenting with an insatiable curiosity that set him apart from others. He did not take no for an answer and found himself amongst stars like Bing Crosby with great fame as a guitarist and performer. He used available technology throughout his life to push the limits of music with electric guitars, amplification and recording. Even after meeting great success, he did not stop there and he understood the need to keep changing with progress of the time as he continually reinvented himself and his sound after a car collision and his pioneering multitrack recording. Paul's drive to understand the world around him allowed him success through his ability to change with radio, tv, recording, telephones and other results of technology. When he did not have the means to do what he needed, he created a new way. He never seems to have taken his resources for granted and even made the most of those times when he was completely halted by life circumstances to reinvent himself yet again and outdo himself time after time. Though others did some of the same things and the technology was available for much, it seems that Paul was, at some times, the only one taking advantage of opportunity. I find that there is a lot of inspiration in the example of such a motivated person and I find that parallels in my own creative processes give me the potential to achieve my own goals if I can learn from the progress and advancement that Paul used to advance his life.
Jordan Severson


Fat Possum Records: the recording of country blues

The creation of Fat Possum Records does not seem to be anything new, but it is important from the perspective of its investigation of the untapped blues blues scene that resides in juke joint shanties of rural areas. One of the interesting elements of the decision to record these artists is the manner in which the artists respond as many of them are resistant to recording or doing something commercial that is separate from entertaining themselves. These blues artists are then something like anti-stars who shy away from fame and only want to make their own music with the addition of using money perhaps for the support of their family and community members. Indeed, many of them live unaltered lifestyles even after spreading their music and having some success in the sales of their music. These issues come with new tendencies like unorthodox ways of payment to the artists who had different priorities than most artists being brought into the public. The question of the record industry taking advantage of the artists, which is still a very relevant issue today brings up many concerns not just in racial differences, but the basic nature of each role. The music industry has developed in a way that takes all the power from the artist and the creative parties to allow those producing and selling albums to easily exploit the artists. It may not be ideal that the relationship between Fat Possum Records and the artists on the label is accompanied by a great deal of doubt and mistrust, but it seems like a step in the right direction when both parties can admit to the existence of this problem and identify the need for caution in such a fragile relationship. I think that this is positive and continued skepticism will only help make both parties more aware of their positions within the music partnership.

For me, some of the greatest results in the case of artists being recorded on Fat Possum Records is the demonstration of musical potential. Some of those artists are now able to reach a wider audience and show that there are still many who are close to the foundations of a purer blues music that is largely untainted by the over-commercialization of popular music. We can observe from these artists how penetrating blues music is as an entity in peoples lives. It can reach so many who were not involved with other sources of music. It can also have a lot more raw energy, talent, and variation than most of the music industry allows to be seen. The fact that these artists have developed their own style of blues so honest and real, not stale or contrived like the mainstream conception of blues music is extremely refreshing. People like Junior Kimbrough, T-Model Ford, RL Burnside, and Johnny Farmer are real people, with real problems, and I think this makes them true musicians. I am relieved to find that these artists can be entirely self-taught, even refusing the "aid" of would-be instructors, and still display so much potential and talent. This really confirms a lot of my own suspicions and theories about music and it encourages me to produce my own musical endeavors whether I am musically trained, have orthodox means, or not. These artists assure me that I could pursue my own artistic goals by my own means and be completely successful without concern for how much of a profit I am making or how well known I am. I find these notions and priorities to be very appealing and I maintain that these instances are evidence that justifies my own frustrations and criticisms of the music industry. I feel like music has always been derivative and always borrows heavily from itself, but that it has gotten unnecessarily worse with time. There is too much that has not been done or explored in music to be rehashing the same cliche themes and overworked genres that popular music perpetuates and exacerbates. Or why not use your inspirations and talents in a constructive way like Burnside or some of these other artists who will play covers of songs that are completely reinvented, reincarnated in a new style. This, along with pursuing your own musical ideas and innovating with original compositions displays skill and talent that is all too absent from today's dominant music trends. I admire these artists who don't succumb to others' conceptions of what blues music is or how it should be, and they live their music to play with honesty and heart that the public does not know. There are too few people in the world who take this sort of genuine and dedicated approach to what they do and they deserve the rewards most since they have shown that they can do without them.
Jordan Severson